I remember when I enrolled Tyler in kindergarten in 1997, the application had a section for corporal punishment. Wikipedia says that corporal punishment “is a punishment which is intended to cause physical pain to a person.” At the time, I didn’t know what the term meant. There was no active internet, so I had to ask around. I just didn’t want to sign anything I was unsure of. Once I learned what the term was, I signed to opt out of it, which meant teachers, principals, etc., were not allowed to hit my child who was six at the time.
After I learned what it was, the sickness in me swam around causing the bad kind of belly butterflies and even some fear because I thought that was a practice that was done in schools decades ago, even centuries. I had heard family members talk about the nuns who would whack their hands with rulers and sticks, and had seen on television how children who misbehaved were subjected to a paddling on the behind. Even over twenty years later, it’s still being done in US schools. In North Carolina, the state I live in, it is a legal form of punishment in schools as well as homes.
Spanking isn’t something that Roger and I chose to use as a form of punishment for our sons. Honestly, it began as a selfish decision because neither one of us wanted to inflict pain on them. We also didn’t want our kids to be stifled with fear and general hesitancy. Other forms of punishment worked for them like taking away their favorite toy, writing “I-will-nots” many times, and some hush time in the chicken chair.
Roger and I made a small table out of wood with four chairs painted with craft paint we purchased at Michael’s, each one representing a different animal. There was a pig, a cow, a sheep, and a chicken. The chicken chair remains in my kitchen to this day as a memory, not of sadness, but of quiet. They knew that depending on how much time they were told to sit there, their time did not begin until they were silent and they successfully controlled their outburst. Once that was done, the time started, and then we talked about it, they were quietly angry, or they just went on their merry way. It worked well with no fear.
Even though spanking is still lawful in NC schools, there are regulations. Findlaw.com states that “no excessive force may be used (excessive force is that which causes an injury requiring medical attention beyond simple first aid).” I read this as a little first aid needed after-the-fact is reasonable. There are other guidelines that need to be followed in order for the punishment to be a lawful one in the school including the parents are to be notified, no other student may be present, and a few others such as the spanking needs to be done within “reasonable force.”
I can’t imagine a time when I would ever allow my son to be paddled by another person, let alone me. As a matter of fact, it plain old creeps me out that this can still happen in this modern day.
People have laughed at my stupidity and naiveté while they said to me that my boys will “run all over us” if we don’t spank them and our parenting technique “won’t last long.” Well, that hasn’t happened yet, and my sons are kind citizens who are some of the most decent members of this society. There were times, many, when they made me very angry, and I’m sure that there is more of that to come. During those times, spanking them would have been a product of my anger and not a means to punish them. It would have made them fear me and would have made me feel terrible. I’m curious if our country will ever exist in a time when there will be no more paddling, grabbing switches off front-yard trees, and leading with fear. I feel there will be. In the meantime, that little chicken chair will still hold each of my sons. I mean, Roger did build it.